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Ukraine Proposes Working With U.S. To Replace Russian Rockets

Ukraine has proposed that Kyiv and the United States jointly develop and produce a rocket engine to replace Russian rocket engines currently used to launch U.S. military satellites.

The head of Ukraine's Space Agency, Lyubomyr Sabadosh, said on May 31 that he proposed the plan to replace Russian RD-180 rocket engines, which the U.S. Congress has ordered to be phased out by 2019, on a visit to the United States last month.

"We have proposed using our capabilities for implementing a joint design solution. ... It's quite a complicated task, but we can cope with it," he said.

Sabadosh said the United States expressed an interest in the idea. He said further talks will be held in Kyiv in November and will address the time frame for development, conducting tests, and funding.

Congress directed the U.S. military to find alternatives to the Russian rocket engines in 2014 after relations between the United States and Russia deteriorated sharply with Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

The Pentagon has said U.S. private contractors need time and incentives to develop alternatives, however, and trying to replace the Russian engine immediately would be costly.

Based on reporting by TASS and Unian